Family helped to safety by firefighters after receiving life-saving advice

Coniston Road, Patchway, Bristol

A family of five were rescued by crews after a fire blocked the escape route from their home.

The Service received a call reporting the blaze in the communal stairway of a two storey block of flats. The first floor fire had blocked the escape routes of three flats on that level.

One of the flats was occupied by two adults and three children; the oldest aged six-years old and the youngest a three-week old baby.

After receiving the 999 call an Avon Fire & Rescue Service Control operator remained on the phone with the caller for more than 20 minutes providing life-saving advice and reassurance during the incident.

With their escape route blocked, the Fire Control operator advised the family to gather together in one bedroom, seal gaps under the doors with towels and to sit on the floor to stay beneath any smoke that might enter the flat. The family were provided with reassurance that help was on its way as and that firefighters were tackling the fire outside their front door.

Four firefighters in breathing apparatus used a high pressure hose and jet to tackle the fire which had filled the stairwell with thick, acrid smoke. Once the fire was extinguished all five people were walked to safety uninjured.

The advice provided by the Fire Control operator ensured the family did not attempt to escape through the thick smoke – just a few breaths of which would have proved fatal.

The male occupant of a flat on the first floor was also led to safety by firefighters. Crews forced entry to the third flat which was found to be unoccupied.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The incident highlights the importance of planning a fire escape plan with the whole family. We would offer the following advice:

Planning your escape route

  • Keep doors and window keys where everyone can find them.
  • Plan an escape route and make sure everyone knows how to get out.
  • Make sure exits are kept clear. The best route is the normal way in and out of your home.
  • Think of a second route in case the first one is blocked.
  • Take a few minutes to practice your escape plan with the whole family.
  • Review your plan if the layout of your home changes.

What to do if your escape route is blocked

  • If you can't get out, get everyone into one room, ideally with a window and a phone.
  • Put bedding around the bottom of the door to block out the smoke, then open the window and call "Help! Fire!"
  • If you're on the ground or first floor, you may be able to escape through a window.
  • Use bedding to cushion your fall and lower yourself down carefully. Don't jump.
  • If you can't open the window, break the glass in the bottom corner. Make jagged edges safe with a towel or blanket.

We provide guidance on escape routes during Home Fire Safety Visits. During the free service our staff will visit your home to provide information on all areas of fire safety specific to your home, including escape routes. Smoke alarms will also be fitted free of charge if required.

For more information on Home Fire Safety Visits please click here.